Can I strongly recommend watching Boris' Greenwich speech? For a politician, it's truly excellent: he really does have the makings of a statesman That's the way to give clarity of purpose to your negotiators: it immeasurably strengthens their hand. Many have bemoaned the UK team's lame performances under Cameron (his pre-referendum "Deal") and then May, in the face of perfectly ordinary Euro-wallah opponents - who were competent, but no more. Shamefully, that has been quite enough to wipe the floor with our side.
It would be a singularly inept negotiator who couldn't make serious headway under the Colours that Johnson has issued to the troops. He's won half the battle for them already. How? He's trumped the Euros at their own game, by equiping our side with a knock-down "Logic". Because "Logic" wins negotiations. As an old negotiator, let me explain.
An army acquaintance of mine was about to leave the service after 25 years: he'd never known anything else. He had an attractive skill-set, and found no difficulty in getting interviews for jobs he knew he could do. But he was finding a problem: as a chap in middle life with loads of experience, he wasn't being considered for bog-standard entry-level jobs with a defined pay band: he was being asked to name what salary he wanted. Formal negotiating wasn't something he knew anything about, so how the hell did he proceed, on this simplest of early challenges?
I told him to make a cost-list of everything he could think of that a respectable family man could reasonably expect to spend over a year maintaining a decent lifestyle - housing, transport, food, holidays, education, entertainment, insurance, etc etc. Comprehensive: everything he could put a name to and stand by it without embarrassment if questioned in detail. Add it all up, then add 10% plus rounding. Then, when questioned, say calmly & firmly: I've totted it all up and I need £x. Then stay silent, calmly awaiting a repsonse.
It worked for him. It generally does. Why? Because it comes across as a "Logic": (a) because it is indeed fairly based on a genuine logic, albeit one capable of being wrangled with by a particularly quarrelsome antagonist; and (b) because it's presented calmly and with finality - as if the presenter truly believes in its logic, and won't be shaken on it. Any type of vagueness or flimsiness or randomness invites strong push-back. But anything that seems to be believed ("seems" is all you need, though it really must seem!) as a matter of fact or logic, invites being accepted. Even if the other side is inclined to say: well that's not right - they find it hard to press on that with ultimate conviction if, at the same time, they have to admit: well, but he believes it, he's clearly not going to budge, whatever we think ...
It's only one of a hundred negotiating tactics; but the Euro-wallahs played this with great success on Mrs May. This is sequence the negotiations must take, because of X and Y. This is the bill the UK must pay, because of A and B. This is why the Irish issue must be addressed first, because of the Good Friday Agreement. Barnier played this card all day long, for months at a time. And May was taken in by it, every time.
They were limbering up to play it all over again. These are the rules you (obviously!) must accept, because you want access to our markets. They've even got a standard embellishment, which they used last time and Barnier explicitly said they were going to use again: it's up to you (oh, it sounds so reasonable! It's "Logic", after all ...) - you decide what you want from us, and we'll tell you the price-tag: the more items you want, the longer you're going to have to be in talks, and the more of our rules you're (obviously) going to have to accept.
Boris has thwarted the whole trick with two simple observations: our standards [environmental, workplace benefits etc etc - listen to the speech] are higher than yours (we set them higher because of our own superior policies); and we could demand you level up to us - but we're not going to; we'll just have mutual free trade, thank you. It's simple: it's robust: the point has now been made publicly: everyone on our side can easily rehearse it all day long (and would have a helluva problem going home to explain any backsliding on such a straightforward point).
It can't be screwed up - can it?
Anyhow: Field Marshal Boris has magnificently played his part, conveying his battle orders with clarity and impeccable knock-down Logic. Let battle commence.